It was just three weeks ago that MetLife Stadium was home to a two-day football-palooza (as coined here at least) that was going to alter the course of the sport in this city (as claimed here) and usher in an age of excitement (here) and joy (here again) for the many downtrodden fans of the two franchises that call it home.
Three short weeks.
Three very long short weeks.
The Giants and Jets will reprise their double dip of prime-time home games this weekend, but now the most intriguing story line among them seems to be whether the biggest pop star in the world will show up to root on Kansas City’s tight end on Sunday night.
Swift? Yep, that is exactly what the twin demises of the two actual tenants of MetLife have been.
We’ve been rooked. Jobbed. Swindled and bamboozled.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
But here we are, again forced to watch Zach Wilson try to salvage his career and the Jets’ hopes of contending with a roster that is otherwise poised for success. Again subjected to watching the Giants’ defense attempt to tackle opponents and the O-line struggle to block for Daniel Jones.
And we’ll again have to watch both on national television, the Jets facing the defending Super Bowl champs on Sunday night followed by the Giants hosting Geno Smith and the Seahawks on Monday night.
At least for the Giants, this feels like a do-over. Their two losses have been lopsided but not unexpected. If they can win and improve to 2-2, that should be able to sustain them through the next chunk of their schedule. They do face challenges from the Dolphins and Bills coming up after this weekend, but they really won’t face a team as talented as the Cowboys and 49ers, two of their first three opponents, until they have to play the Eagles on Christmas Day.
“Our first home game didn’t go so well for the fans,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said of the 40-0 loss to the Cowboys. “I think this is going to be a big one to get our fans back on track.”
Jones agreed, giving a rare concession that Monday is, in fact, a “big game.”
“Without a doubt it’s a big game, and we’re excited for the opportunity,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for us to get back on track.”
The Jets, meanwhile, are sinking in a muck of their own making. They are the bigger disappointment.
They are the ones who crowed about crows — remember Robert Saleh’s wildlife lesson about how eagles defend themselves? — and set up the ’85 Bears defensive expectations and kept talking overtly about the Super Bowl. How silly all of that seems now. How quickly dated that patter has become.
They didn’t volunteer to be on “Hard Knocks,” but they didn’t have to give up so many juicy scenes to be thrown back at them when they were forced to be on the show, either. They are still providing that ammo to their haters, too, with their sideline bickering during the games and the absurdity of having their two greatest quarterbacks — the one who brought them a Super Bowl and the one who played just four snaps for them — offering criticism and commentary from afar.
And now here they come back on the field, back under the lights, Zach Wilson’s team going up against Patrick Mahomes’ team. Gulp.
That last prime-time game when they opened against the Bills really was an extravaganza. The lasers, the lights, the music, the flags. The Rodgers. It will be impossible to replicate this time, even if the Jets attempt to do so . . . which they should not. Read the room.
“Those night games are always exciting,” Saleh said of the Sunday night atmosphere. “Kansas City is a big draw, obviously, and so are we. It is going to be fun. I think the crowd is going to be awesome.”
Maybe at the start. But it has the potential to turn pretty sour quickly if Wilson doesn’t improve. It could be as ugly as his last prime-time start on a Thursday night against the Jaguars last season when he was booed off the field and replaced by Chris Streveler.
“Can’t control that one,” Saleh said of the potential for such a backlash from those in the seats.
If they could, they wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with.
Back in the spring, when the whole football world seemed to revolve around New York and its two fast-rising teams, Taylor Swift brought her megaconcert to MetLife Stadium, and in the audience, Rodgers waved his arms and dreamed about the confetti from that show falling on the Jets after they won a championship.
If she winds up coming back to East Rutherford this weekend, it certainly won’t be to return the favor and watch Rodgers perform. He’s hinted that he may be there, but in football terms, he’s gone from the picture.
Worse, his aspirations and manifestations are on season-ending IR as well. That’s the part we have been robbed of. And all so sickeningly quickly.
If the Jets and Giants can’t produce at least one win between them this weekend, New York’s football-palooza will have turned into something else in just three weeks. It could become home to football-pa-loser.